Category Archives: Things to Do in Las Vegas

Checking in On Downtown’s New Gateway Arch

We haven’t shared an update on downtown’s new welcome arch in, oh, several minutes, so let’s do that.

Downtown’s $6.5 million gateway arch is nearing completion. You can tell by the funny look on its face.

Downtown archway

Vegas loves it some giant parabolas. For the newcomers, that was a boob joke.

The arch has been delayed a bit (it was supposed to be done in Sep. 2020), and now we know why.

There are a metric hell-ton of bulbs to install!

The thousands of bulbs are likely to give downtown some eye-catching bling, but holy crap, somebody at YESCO’s going to get carpal tunnel.

Downtown archway

So. Much. Screwing.

YESCO, of course, is the legendary Las Vegas sign company tasked with building the arch.

We get the feeling YESCO didn’t discourage the City of Las Vegas from using the aforementioned metric hell-ton of bulbs, as they’re the ones who will be maintaining the sign.

YESCO Tweet

Why do you always have to make things awkward? And by “you,” we mean “we.”

On the bright side, literally, bulbs add a flair LEDs just can’t replicate. (Just as LEDs can’t outshine the visual appeal of neon.)

Downtown archway

We tried counting all the bulbs, got to four trillion and quit to drink at Strat’s View Lounge.

The archway sits at the foot of The Strat on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Actually, drivers must go through the legs of the archway to get into The Strat’s porte cochere.

The arch should be completed in mid-to-late November 2020, because, beyond the bulb installation, there’s still quite a bit of electrical work to be done, per the City of Las Vegas.

Downtown archway

Our favorite part of any Las Vegas sign? Googie stars!

We’re still trying to get a sense of where people might want to stand for a photo op with the new archway.

It’s not a stellar part of town, but doesn’t feel dangerous. Because the northern side of the sign will be in the shade during daylight hours, you’ll want to park at The Strat and walk to just south of the sign for your photos.

Downtown Vegas arch

As with most things in Vegas, this will look much sexier after dark.

Here’s a closer look at the dangling part.

Vegas archway

The sign features the City’s abandoned logo. Also, pretty sure we’re using the word “abandoned” wrong.

You can also stroll a bit north to another welcome display featuring larger-than-life chips, dice and showgirls.

Fun fact: Showgirls don’t like being referred to as “larger-than-life.”

Downtown gateway display

We’d have bet against it, but this photo op has actually become a thing.

You know we’ll be there when the downtown archway is lit. We’re pretty much guaranteed to be the same, if you get our drift.

Bellagio Conservatory Whips Out Its Autumnal Resplendence

It’s time to bask in the newest seasonal display at Bellagio Conservatory!

The Conservatory is all up in the fall at the moment, and even if you’re not currently in Las Vegas, you can still “visit” the attraction through the miracle of the Interwebs.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Bellagio’s getting its enchantment on.

The fall display isn’t Bellagio’s flashiest, that honor typically goes to the Christmas penguinfest, but it’s impressive and the Conservatory remains one of the best free attractions in Las Vegas along with our blog. Ahem.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Bro, this isn’t a seafood restaurant. Tend to hoisting your mainsail or whatever.

In an effort to help you enjoy Bellagio’s autumnal display, we slapped together a short video you can watch with friends and family, assuming your friends and family are really, really bored after binge watching “Las Vegas.” Again.

Strap on your 3-D glasses! The video isn’t 3-D, but you just look awesome in 3-D glasses.

But enough about how our photos and videos and modesty make us the best Las Vegas blog, ever. Seriously, though, have you ever seen the entire Bellagio Conservatory in one photo? We’ve got this.

Back to the fall display!

As always, there’s a lot to take in, so figure on two trips through the attraction.

Our first stroll through is always about the big picture, reveling in the overall splendor. Or possibly grandeur. Bellagio has both.

The second pass is about all the details, an opportunity to really appreciate the attention to detail and wizardry of Bellagio’s visionary horticultural team, 97 wizards strong.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Try not to ask too many questions.

The Bellagio Conservatory’s fall 2020 display is called “Into the Woods,” an obvious reference to the actor we all used to know and love.

There’s a charming surprise at every turn, with foxes and dragonflies and fairies, which is possibly an inappropriate term but that’s what they used in the news release so we’re going with it.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

You should see the size of the bug zapper.

The magical forest motif also has giant mushrooms, which we’re definitely not making a joke about because we’re already going to spend the rest of our day dealing with our comments section.

Upon entering the Conservatory’s West Bed, which we didn’t know had a name, guests are welcomed by a family of foxes playing “beneath a magnificent, floral-embellished, hand-hewn tree house with colorful stained-glass dragonfly windows.”

Also, “a symbol of transformation and adaptability, the dragonfly also is featured on the ship’s head of the Botanical Bellagio sailboat which guides the foxes’ water journey through the forest.”

The folks at the Bellagio Conservatory obviously know a little something about mushrooms.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Why is it always about the jokes with you?

In the North Garden, the aforementioned fairies chill near a tranquil reflecting pond.

“Their woodland fairy house, built completely of botanical ingredients, features a roof constructed of over-sized sunflowers and the same stained-glass windows used in the foxes’ treehouse.”

The main walkway into the Conservatory is a hollow tree with a small fountain inside.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Virtually everything in Las Vegas doubles as a wishing well.

The fountain, naturally, has become a place for guests to throw coins for good luck. And by coins, we mean “coins and slot machine TITO slips.”

Autumn Bellagio 2020

Coin shortage and whatnot.

No autumn display at Bellagio would feel complete without the 28-foot talking tree, which is definitely not even remotely creepy or possibly emotionally traumatizing to children.

We’re kidding. The talking tree is also possibly emotionally traumatizing to adults as well.

Autumn Bellagio 2020

His bite isn’t nearly as bad as his, well, you know.

There are also bears and bees on the South Bed.

The bees labor day and night to make honey so the bears can raid their hive and fatten up for a “long winter nap” despite the fact bears have no real appreciation for the fact bees only live three months and they’ve just spent that entire time slaving away to feed these ungrateful, fatass bears.

That wasn’t in the news release, by the way. We’re just winging it so our photos don’t slap together.

Autumn Bellagio 2020

Today’s reason bees always look exhausted.

As always, the Bellagio provides some awesome stats related to the display.

About 8,730 pounds of pumpkins are used, the largest of which weighs 1,037 pounds.

There are 19 mushrooms in the display, with 59,950 carnations used on them.

The display also features 31 illuminated acorns. It goes without saying Illuminated Acorns would be a great band name. As would Autumnal Resplendence, now that we’ve had a minute to think about it.

Autumn Bellagio 2020

The scientific name for these flowers is “fuscia.” We are not big on note-taking, sorry.

We love the Bellagio’s Conservatory, and the fall display is well worth a stop. Again, it’s free, and the Conservatory is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The fall display runs through Nov. 28, 2020. Then, it’s time for the polar bears to return, much to the relief of the honeybees.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 114: Kamu Karaoke, Pinball Hall of Fame and an Ass-Ton of Yammer

Podcasting is extremely difficult to do well, and this episode is a great example.

As usual, our incredible guests take up the slack.

In this installment, we chat with the owner of Kamu Ultra Karaoke Lounge at Venetian, Jeff Kim.

Kamu Ultra Karaoke is unlike any karaoke you’ve ever experienced in Las Vegas. We loved it, and we hate everything.

Kamu neon room

Our favorite room at Kamu Ultra Karaoke, unless we can have 40 favorites.

Also up is Tim Arnold, owner of the Pinball Hall of Fame.

We met up with Arnold on the site of a brand new Pinball Hall of Fame on the Las Vegas Strip to get all the skinny about this massive new attraction opening in January 2021, three times the size of the original Pinball Hall of Fame.

New Pinball Hall of Fame

The new home of the Pinball Hall of Fame is so sharp, it could put an eye out.

We also talk about recent visits to Heritage Steak at Mirage, Mon Ami Gabi at Paris, Marche Bacchus in Desert Shores and Carlos’n Charlie’s at Flamingo.

Heritage at Mirage

That time Heritage Steak missed a huge marketing opportunity by one dollar.

There’s the requisite Las Vegas news, of course, with a smattering of exclusive scoop you won’t find anywhere else.

You’ll also want to imbibe in our list of “10 Planes We’re Going When We Get Video Poker Bars Back.”

Podcasts can’t take the place of Las Vegas, of course, but they might help kill some time until your next visit.

Take a listen and apologies in advance.

Checking In on the Downtown Las Vegas Archway

YESCO is making quick work of the downtown Las Vegas welcome archway. We snagged some progress pics on Aug. 19, 2020.

Downtown Las Vegas arch

We could not be a bigger fan of new and shiny things.

By the time you read this, the arches will have connected, but we figured it was worth sharing these for posterity.

Downtown Las Vegas arch

You don’t even realize how inside Vegas we get you.

The archway is at the foot of The Strat. That’s the tall casino with the thrill rides at the top.

Guests drive through the legs of the new archway to enter the porte cochere (a fancy term for “entryway”) of The Strat.

Here’s the view from valet.

Downtown Las Vegas arch

Look at all the “between the legs” jokes we’re not making. The word you’re looking for is “maturity.”

The completion date for the welcome archway is Aug. 28, 2020. YESCO doesn’t mess around.

If you’re ever asked why YESCO is capitalized, reply, “None of your business.”

If you’re every asked why YESCO is capitalized as part of a bar bet, answer, “It’s an initialism. YESCO stands for Young Electric Sign Company.”

YESCO is the same company that renovated Vegas Vickie for her return to Circa Las Vegas, so they’re permanently on our good side.

Vegas arch

The technical term is “boop.”

There’s a lot involved with this seemingly straightforward archway. We got all up in its business to illustrate.

Vegas arch

We would share details of the technical aspects of the archway, but that would involve “effort” and we all know that’s not happening.

The downtown welcome archway is about 80 feet tall. Or 82 feet in heels.

All told, the arch will cost about $6.5 million. Which is a total bargain if you consider the St. Louis Arch cost $13 million back in 1963. That’s about $110 million in today dollars.

Here’s another look at what the finished product will look like.

Las Vegas arch

Passing under an arch is good luck, irrespective of the fact we may have just made that up.

We’re about a week away from the completion of this new downtown photo op, so check back to see the finished product.

Pinball Hall of Fame’s New Strip Location Takes Shape

The Pinball Hall of Fame is one of the most beloved attractions in Las Vegas, and fans of throwback arcade games will soon have a new place to plunge, flip and bump.

It sounds dirtier than it really is.

Here’s a look at the construction underway at the new Pinball Hall of Fame on the Las Vegas Strip.

New Pinball Hall of Fame

The new home of the Pinball Hall of Fame is not only spacious, it can withstand a zombie invasion.

The new Pinball Hall of Fame is expected to open in January 2021.

The Pinball Hall of Fame will be at 4915 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, next to the Harley-Davidson dealership, not far from the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and Mandalay Bay.

New Pinball museum Las Vegas

Anticipate wall-to-wall gobble holes.

According to Pinball Hall of Fame owner Tim Arnold, “It’s within walking distance of 14 of the 15 largest hotels in the world.”

Here’s a little walk-through, courtesy of our feet.

It’s worth noting there’s a five-acre lot between Harley-Davidson and the new Pinball Hall of Fame, slated for a Dream resort.

Here’s today’s perfunctory photo of an empty lot that might be a thing someday.

Dream site Las Vegas

Let’s hope Dream isn’t just a fantasy. The Pinball Hall of Fame could use the foot traffic.

At 28,000-square-feet, the new venue will be three times larger than the current Pinball Hall of Fame, which boasts an eclectic collection of vintage and rare arcade games.

The existing Pinball Hall of Fame (at 1610 E Tropicana Ave.) is open and operating, and has about 250 games. The new Pinball Hall of Fame will have more than 700.

Pinball Hall of Fame Vegas

You can never have too many wall holder thingys.

Many of the games being dusted off for the new location have been in storage for 30 years, so even Pinball Hall of Fame regulars can expect lots of surprises when the new location makes its debut.

Tim Arnold says there will be a lot more games from the 1940s and 1950s. “Everybody in the artwork will be wearing hats and women will be wearing dresses.” Wait, that used to be a thing?

While classic machines are awesome to see and play, they’re a bear to maintain.

Arnold says, “We have a dedicated staff of volunteers that both live here, and some of them fly in for periods of time, that have been fixing this stuff for years.”

Arnold picked up truckloads of videogames “when the whole thing collapsed in the ’80s.”

“Right now, we’re running things like Centipede and Pac Man, but we’re going to get back into the earlier black and white games—Pong, Computer Space, Rip Off, Star Castle,” Arnold says. “You can get simulations of these games on the Internet, but it’s not the same as playing on a tube monitor. The flat screens do not give you the same visual experience as a tube.”

Pinball Vegas

We’ll just keep showing construction photos until you stop looking at them.

We’ve always touted the Pinball Hall of Fame as “family-friendly,” but Tim Arnold clarified.

“A lot of people think they can bring their kids, turn them loose, they can run around and have a good time and scream, we do not tolerate that at all,” says Arnold. “We’ve offended a lot of parents by speaking to their children in a loud, firm voice.”

Tim Arnold Pinball Hall of Fame

Tim Arnold is like the Willy Wonka of arcades, but with even less patience for poorly-behaved children.

Yeah, Tim Arnold is awesome.

We knew we’d like him when he told us, “We can do an interview, but there are two requirements. You must never refer to a ‘cacophony of sound’ or a ‘melange of color.'” Done and done.

Clearly, this isn’t Arnold’s first rodeo.

Arnold also came up with the de facto slogan for the Pinball Hall of Fame: “If you can’t find something to play in here you like, there’s something wrong with you.”

Pinball museum Vegas

With all this space, and all the games to come, we really need this coin shortage to be over.

Here’s a little insider scoop. As Arnold planned for a new location, he considered changing the name of the place. The proposed name: The Last Real Arcade in America.

The new venue will have free parking and be rideshare-friendly. It will also be non-smoking.

Interestingly, the Pinball Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization.

Pinball Hall of Fame Vegas

The new Pinball Hall of Fame will be this, times a metric buttload.

The parcel for the new location cost $4.5 million (the same lot once sold for $18 million), and the building cost about the same. All in, the project will cost about $10 million. That’s a lot of quarters!

Arnold says, “The building will be mostly paid-for when we open. Our debt to equity will be under 20 percent…so, we’re definitely penny-pinchers. We’re going to work on paying down the debt, then we’re going to get back to doing charitable work.”

If you shake a pinball machine too much, it “tilts.” This construction method is called “tilt-up.” Ah, the circularity of the universe.

Construction on the new Pinball Hall of Fame has progressed despite the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and a temporary shutdown of the Hall of Fame’s original location.

As Tim Arnold puts it, “Right now, Las Vegas is flat on its ass, but it will come back.”

Arnold adds, “The only reason we’ve been able to pull this off so far is we realize the fans of fun things count for something, and that’s what we’ve always worked on, rather than just throwing advertising at something and hoping somebody shows up. What we’re doing is being fanatical about games…we keep our prices low and our fans engaged.”

We’ll be watching the new Pinball Hall of Fame and expect to see our initials under “High Scores” on Asteroids when the place opens in January 2021. Hey, it’s not our first rodeo, either.

Downtown Las Vegas Welcome Archway Has Legs

Construction of the downtown Las Vegas welcome archway is underway and we’ve got all the latest scoop. Along with some sweet-ass pics, of course. Do you know this blog at all?

The archway is slated for completion on August 28, 2020.

Here’s a look at this sparkly new photo op being built downtown.

Downtown Las Vegas arch

This is the caption where we’re legally obligated to share this fun fact: The Las Vegas Strip isn’t in the City of Las Vegas.

The archway will extend from one side of Las Vegas Boulevard to the other, basically at the foot of The Strat. The cross streets are E. St. Louis Ave. and W. Bob Stupak Ave.

The City of Las Vegas will pony up about $6.5 million to build the illuminated archway.

Las Vegas arch

Here’s what downtown’s new erection will eventually look like. Related: Grow up.

Here’s our photo from the same general perspective for comparison purposes.

Strat arch

There’s a pretty good chance people are going to call this the “Strat arch.” The Strat probably isn’t going to complain.

Watch us talking about the arch on the local news when it was originally announced in May 2018.

We were all so much younger and unsoiled a year ago, weren’t we? Well, at least we were all younger.

Vegas arch

Paging Dr. Freud.

The archway is being built east to west by Las Vegas’ go-to sign company, YESCO.

The bases of the 80-foot archway, on the Strat side, are substantial.

Vegas arch

Yes, we took a photo of the arch support. You’re welcome.

When complete, the archway will feature the City of Las Vegas logo. Interestingly, the logo being used was abandoned by the City for official uses in August 2017, because some found the logo confusing because it was seemed to convey “fun” and “a classic vibe” and “visual interest” and “you know, all that crap Vegas is supposed to be about.”

Anyway, the ditched logo will be back in a big way.

Vegas archway

Here’s a closer look at the arch’s inner steel frame and ourter fancy.

The archway joins another “welcome to downtown Vegas” photo op a couple of blocks away.

That display, unveiled in August 2018, cost about $400,000 and features dice, poker chips, a roulette table and showgirls.

Downtown gateway display

Many actual Las Vegas showgirls were nearly this tall.

The welcome sign and arch grew out of a need for a new way to welcome visitors when downtown’s original sign (a replica of the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign near Mandalay Bay) was destroyed when an asshat crashed into it with his truck in July 2016.

All due respect to asses, hats and trucks.

Vegas arch

If you can’t tell the difference between a parabolic arch and a catenary arch, we can’t be friends.

You know we’ll be keeping an eye on the construction of the new downtown welcome archway. We’re always up for some new bling or whatever the kids are calling it now.